11 July 2005

Srebrenica: Never Forget...

Hopefully Srebrenica will become a World Heritage Site to remind us of our potential capacity for hate and destruction. For too many people forget those human failings...

Mitakuye Oyasin

Srebrenica to Remember Massacre
Tens of thousands of people are gathering to attend ceremonies marking the 10th anniversary of the massacre of Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica.

About 8,000 men and boys were killed by Serbian forces in 1995, in Europe's worst atrocity since World War II.

UK, French and Dutch ministers, and US officials will take part in a memorial at the Potocari cemetery, where many of the dead are buried.

The remains of 610 newly identified dead will be buried at the same time.

Security is tight after two unexploded bombs were found nearby last week. Over 1,500 policemen will be deployed to patrol the area.

Also attending Monday's ceremonies are former US Balkans envoy Richard Holbrooke and the president of the war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Theodor Meron.

But the tribunal's chief prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, has promised to boycott the occasion in protest against the failure to arrest the men accused of the slaughter - former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his army commander Gen Radko Mladic.


Muslim prayers echoed through the valley as hundreds of relatives of those killed walked slowly and thoughtfully around the cemetery.

Piles of soil stand next to the 610 freshly-dug graves - the latest victims to be found and identified, who are to be buried at the ceremony.

Bosnian police are providing security for the event, which takes place in the Serb-controlled part of the country, but international peacekeepers and police officers are keeping watch from a distance.

A Serbian delegation led by President Boris Tadic will attend the memorial for the first time - a move condemned by Serbian hardliners.

In Serbia, many still believe the mass killings never took place. But a new video showing the execution of Muslim civilians sparked national soul-searching among Serbs last month.

Mr Tadic has announced he will "bow to the innocent victims".

Mr Karadzic and Gen Mladic have been indicted for genocide, but they are still at large.

Mr Tadic told the Bosnian Serb newspaper Nezavisne Novine that he hoped Gen Mladic would be arrested in the next few days.

Many of the widows attending the ceremony are still waiting to see justice done, says the BBC's Nick Hawton in Srebrenica.

"They killed my entire life and the only thing I want now is to see the guilty ones pay for it," Fatima Budic, whose 14-year-old son Velija was one of the victims, told AP news agency. Her husband and another son are among the missing.

So far 1,300 bodies recovered from mass graves have been laid to rest after being identified through DNA testing.

But more than 4,500 body bags full of human remains still need to be analysed.

On Sunday, the Bosnian government announced a new mass grave believed to contain more bodies of people killed in the massacre had been found.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/07/11 09:15:35 GMT



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